Think, Feel, Do

I always enjoy ‘light-bulb’ jokes and usually make an effort to remember them. My favourite ones have to do with church people:

How many Reformed Christians does it take to change a light-bulb?
As many as is needed to write a treatise on the theology of changing light-bulbs.

How many Charismatics does it take to change a light-bulb?
Seven. One to change the bulb and six to share the experience.

How many Fundamentalists does it take to change a light-bulb?
Change? Are you out of your mind?

You may smile, but these jokes convey an important truth. Different religious movements are usually known by the particular truths they tend to emphasise.

Throughout the ages certain denominations have excelled in the study of the Scriptures as well as in expository preaching and teaching, and they have been used of God to supply the church with mind-boggling volumes of rock solid theology. Others have emphasised a vibrant and personal relationship with God, and they have been used of God to fire up the hearts of God’s people. Still others have emphasised the fact that Christians are called to be holy and separate, and they have been used of God to resist the spirit of the age as it constantly seeks to infiltrate the church.

Who is right? Clearly they all are. We need the one as much as we need the other. We need the head, the heart and the hand. We need the thinkers, the feelers and the doers. Or, as Jesus instructed us, we need to love God with all our mind, all our heart and all our strength.

The challenge for Christians is to integrate all three these dimensions of our faith. Choose one at the expense of the others and you run the risk of ending up with intellectualism, fanaticism or pharisaism.

3 thoughts on “Think, Feel, Do

  1. Chris Lovie-Tyler April 12, 2011 / 8:24 pm

    I’ve been thinking about this very thing, Tobie.

    Having just read a comparison of Calvinism and Arminianism, I don’t think I fall into either camp, but I agree with some points from both sides.

    Although there is a lot I wouldn’t buy into in Catholicism, there is much in their tradition I appreciate and think is biblical.

    I’ve been part of various different ‘churches’ (Baptist, Presbyterian and Vineyard, and now an organic fellowship), and you’re right, each one has something God has shown them that the whole Church needs to hear.

    We so readily wear labels—Calvinist, Catholic, Presbyterian, Pentecostal—but all they seem to do is divide us and keep us from receiving the good, God-given things that have been revealed to each part of the Church—for the benefit of the whole.

    On a lighter and related note, I came across this the other day:

    A quiz for your Calvinist friends

  2. naturalchurch April 13, 2011 / 1:04 pm

    Chris, you made my day (Actually, my week). That is undoubtedly the funniest contribution to the debate that I have ever come across. Thanks – I’m certainly going to pass it on. I had a bit of a debate with a group of Calvinists some time ago and they asked me for my views in writing. What was meant to be a pamphlet is now becoming a book, so I have been thinking much about the issue lately. I cannot seem to find my conclusions (it took me over 2 decades to formulate them) expressed anywhere else, but I’m sure they must be somewhere. It is indeed a position between Arminianism and Calvinism, and it seems pretty straightforward to me. The thesis is simple: Revelation is progressive. We have free will to respond to it in its basic and primary form but we need special grace to respond to it in its more sophisticated form. Hence the Bible’s seeming contradictory emphasis on God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. There’s no contradiction. Man’s choice and God’s choice simply takes place during different stages on the timeline of spiritual development. There are a multitude of verses to back up this view.

    Re your other comments: I have also been all over the show, hence the cartoon on my ‘about’ page. I went from Dutch Reformed to Pentecostal to Charismatic to Baptist to Reformed Baptist, with sprinklings of mysticism and contemplative spirituality in between. I finally gave it all up and allowed a deep intuitive sense within (that had been there since my conversion in the early eighties!), combined with a simple interpretation of the Scriptures, to guide me in a new direction. What a tremendous blessing!

    I do believe that an integration of the various dimensions of Christianity is essential and that we have seen very little of it in 200 years of church history. I also believe that this is the unity of the faith that Paul speaks of in Eph 4, which will be one of the primary characteristics of the mature bride (“the measure of the age of the fullness of Christ” Eph 4:13 ESV).

  3. Chris Lovie-Tyler April 13, 2011 / 7:51 pm

    I’m glad, Tobie!

    Yes, I can see where each side gets support for its position in Scripture, but I’m not convinced either side provides a completely balanced view. I think each one emphasises certain passages and downplays, or twists, others.

    I’m not sure I’ve come to a conclusion, so for now, I’ll let the various passages sit in tension. Your thesis sounds interesting, though, and I’d certainly be interested in reading your book when it’s finished!

    Grace and peace to you!

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